New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams this past weekend walked through a building partially destroyed by a fire in support of tenants that once lived there, but are unable to move back because critical repairs have yet to be made.
The blaze occurred Feb. 25 and was due to an electrical fire that occurred on the 5th and 6th floors of the 36-unit, 6-story building located at 180 East 18th Street in Flatbush, according to tenant advocates, and it left 18 families homeless.
“Five months ago, residents at 180 E. 18th experienced the tragedy of losing that homes and possessions in a fire. But that tragedy did not end in February – their homes have not been repaired, and they have struggled to find temporary housing,” said Williams.
Tenant advocates noted that the former landlord, Juda Rosenfeld and JBM Estates, make repairs so tenants can finally return to their homes. They noted that the landlords have a history of neglecting their buildings, where tenants live with dangerous and unhealthy conditions.
This includes in October 2018, Rosenfeld’s tenants at 1800 Albemarle in Flatbush protested living with water damage and mold for more than three years. And at 180 East 18th St, tenants raised concerns about electrical wiring and other dangerous conditions for years — as evidenced by HPD violations for “immediately hazardous” conditions dating back to 2015.
Flatbush Tenants Coalition Community Organizer Sundai Bestman said that the building currently has over 100 building violations and the landlords have been non-responsive, uncooperative and stopped doing repairs at other apartments on various other floors.
The matter has been complicated in that ownership of the building changed hands last month, tenant advocates said at the walkthrough of the building on Saturday.
The tenants filed a group housing court case for immediate repairs that was heard in Housing Court, 141 Livingston Street on Monday. The results of that hearing were not known at post time.
In the meantime, Williams said if the landlords and the tenants couldn’t come to an agreement he would contact the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) to remedy the situation with repairs, and have the owners and landlords deal with extreme cost of damages since they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.